Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Story In Your Eyes

About a year and a bit ago it was time to pull up the ottoman, grab a bag of popcorn and watch the saga play itself out.

Of course a great many were gleefully anticipating a Canadian-style housing collapse that would mimic the great American catastrophe playing out on our cousins to the south.

But it was frustrated despair that many felt as the Canadian story took an unexpected path - government intervention, emergency interest rates, CHMC directives to approve sub-primers.

A watched pot never boils. And with that thought, I am now reminded of the classic Moody Blues song, The Story in your Eyes.

"Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away
We're part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day"

For the past month and a half we have watched the media slowly begin to grasp the true condition of what has been driving our real estate market, watched the bond market start to drive interest rates up and listened to the Governor of the Bank of Canada 'tsk-tsk' Canadians for overdosing on the crack cocaine of the emergency level interest rates he has set out on the table.

The result?

As CREA’s economist Gregory Klump says, “with interest rates soon expected to rise, Canada is widely believed to be entering a typical demand-driven downturn due to recent prices increases and rising interest rates."

Typical? It will only be classified as 'typical' if the bleeding is minimized. Last month's statistics are out and the 'demand-driven downturn' has begun.

Detached houses prices are down 4.6% from April, listings are exploding and buyers are exiting en masse.

And yesterday... the Bank of Canada doubled their emergency interest rate from 0.25% to 0.50%.

This comes on the heels of StatsCan reporting that the personal savings rate of Canadians has plunged. We now spend, on average, 97.2% of what we earn.

Debt has postively exploded among Canadians.

Mortgage debt is at an all-time high and we’ve never owed so much on credit cards, lines of credit, car loans and/or home equity loans.

And this debt orgy has all been built up when interest rates are at the lowest point in history.

The email inbox reveals numerous comments that I am gleefully crowing over the hardships I expect to befall my fellow countrymen.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

"But I'm frightened for the children
That the live that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we've been waiting for
Will turn to rain"

I focus intently on the obvious conditions which are brewing because to ignore what is coming is pure folly.

As I said Monday, understand what is going on around you. We live in extraordinary times, most of us just don't realize it yet.



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  1. I found it interesting that despite a flood of new listings, and sales volumes declining from 2009, many areas of Canada are still hitting all-time highs for average price.

    I guess that prices lag by a few months... we should see more consistent declines by the end of the summer.

  2. It's so sad to see what has become of the real estate bears. They are now jumping on a miniscule downturn in prices as their saving grace for being horribly wrong about their outlook for the last decade.

    I'm sure you've gotten used to eating crow since you've been doing it for so long.